Law & Language. II. WHAT IS “LAW”? A. Distinguish between “the law” and “a law” and “law” 1. “Law” is most general a. Refers to the sets of rules, etc., that can be enforced with respect to individuals and entities – against their will and without their prior consent
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Canada's telecommunications regulator has decided that a . . . comma in a contract concerning telephone poles will allow a company to save an estimated 2 million dollars (Canadian).
The contract between cable company Rogers Communications and telephone company Bell Aliant allowed Rogers to use Bell Aliant's tele-phone poles. Bell Aliant sought to get out of the deal.
Canada's telecommunications regulator said the case hinged on the
. . . second comma in this clause:
"This agreement shall be effective from the date it is made and shall continue in force for a period of five (5) years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five (5) year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party."
Rogers had insisted the contract was good for at least five years; Aliant said the comma denotes that the deal can be terminated at five years -- or before, as long as one year's notice is given.
The ruling commission said that the comma should have been omitted if the contract was meant to last five years in its shortest term.
Persons reading a language in which they are very fluent (usually their “native” language) make unconscious assumptions about words being read.
a. Carefully analyze the basis/reasons for the prior decision
– If the key factor in an oranges case was that the item was a fruit, is it precedent for a later apple case?
– If the key factor was the color of the outer layer of the item, is it precedent for an apple case?
4. Things to argue about:
a. What, exactly, was the key factor(s) in the prior decision?
b. Is the analogous factor most significant in the problem, or are there other factors that should have greater weight?
C. Another use of “precedent” – Establishing & applying a general rule